German POW leaves £400,000 to Scottish village for kindness shown to him in captivity

A former Waffen SS soldier who was captured during World War Two has left the village he was held in nearly £400,000 for the kindness he was shown as a prisoner of war.

Heinrich Steinmeyer was captured in France when he was 19-years-old and was held in the POW camp at Cultybraggan near the village of Comrie, Perthshire.

But he said that he was only shown kindness by the villagers, which he had not expected, and he made lasting friendships in the village.

Now, two years after his death, aged 90, his wish to leave £384,000 to the village has been recognised and has been gifted to the village's local community trust.

It will be spent on local development for the elderly in the area.

Heinrich Steinmeyer's ashes were scattered in the hills above the camp that he was held. Credit: SWNS

Mr Steinmeyer, who died a divorcee with no children, said in his will: "I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Scotland for the kindness and generosity that I have experienced in Scotland during my imprisonment of war and hereafter."

It specifically stated that the proceeds from the sale of his house and other possessions was to be used for "elderly people".

He credited the Scots for saving his life on three occasions - from the French when he was captured, from the Polish as he was being transported and then in captivity with kindness.

He said he would have remained in Scotland had it not been for his elderly widowed mother in his native Silesia, which became part of East Germany.

His ashes were scattered in the hills above the camp where he had been held.

A Heinrich Steinmeyer Legacy Fund has been set up in Comrie. Credit: SWNS

Mr Steinmeyer, who settled in Demlmenhorst, near Bremen, died a fortnight after the death of his close friend in Comrie, George Carson.

Mr Carson's son, who is also called George, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It sounds like an unbelievable story but it's absolutely true.

"My mother and her friends, all school children at Morrison's Academy in Crieff, made friends with Henrich through the fence of the Cultybraggan camp.

"I'm not quite sure how they communicated but during these conversations they discovered that Henrich had never seen a moving picture, so they went up with their push bikes one morning and one of the girls had taken her brother's school uniform and they smuggled him out of the camp through the chainlink fence and into the cinema where he saw his very first film and he was absolutely blown away by the whole experience.

"I met him a couple of times and he was a wonderful man.

"This is his thanks for the kindness shown to him at the point of his life where he was at his lowest and he just wants to say thank you to everybody."

The money has now been transferred to a Heinrich Steinmeyer Legacy Fund and a consultation process will start to find out how the legacy should be spent.

Andrew Reid from the Comrie Development Trust said: "Heinrich's personal history is an amazing story of friendship and appreciation, and people in Comrie will both honour and benefit from his legacy."